Parliament votes in favor of Papaconstantinou prosecution

Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority in the early hours of Tuesday in favor of former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou facing criminal prosecution for tampering with a list that contained the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with accounts at a Geneva branch of HSBC – including four of his relatives – known as the “Lagarde list”.

Deputies from ruling New Democracy and PASOK and from the Democratic Left voted for Papaconstantinou to stand trial for breach of trust, doctoring an official document and dereliction of duty, as the set of conclusions by a cross-party parliamentary committee called for the man who served as finance minister between October 2009 and June 2011, had asked for earlier this month.

In a secret ballot 220 deputies voted in favor of the former minister getting prosecuted for at least one charge, and 166 for all three, out of 283 deputies who voted. Seventeen deputies were absent.

In his address just before the ballot, Papaconstantinou insisted the allegations against him were groundless and politically motivated. “They had found the scapegoat, all they needed to find was what allegations they would force upon him” he claimed, often with a trembling voice.

“I am the target for one and simple reason, because I am the finance minister who put the country in the bailout process,” he said.

Papaconstantinou launched an attack against Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, his own leader when he was at PASOK, saying that unlike himself, Venizelos did nothing to investigate the list. He implied that he felt betrayed by him, saying in Latin: “Hail Caesar, those who are about to die, salute you”.

On Monday financial prosecutor Panayiotis Athanasiou recommended that two former heads of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE), Yiannis Diotis and Yiannis Kapeleris, be charged with breach of trust in connection with the list.

Authorities are continuing an investigation into the assets of Papaconstantinou’s relatives.